Yom ha-Shoah

We shall never forget . . .

In 1939, prior to the war that engulfed the whole of Europe and most of the world, approximately fifteen million Jews lived worldwide. After the brutal reign of the Nazis, however, only nine million remained. The Israeli Knesset instituted Yom Ha-Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) in a resolution they passed on April 12, 1951, as a memorial to the six million Jews who perished during the Nazi regime. The 27th Day of Nisan was chosen to be the day of the memorial; this date falls between the date of the Warsaw ghetto uprising and Yom Ha-Atzma’ut, Israel’s Independence Day. Interestingly, this date also occurs during the partial mourning period of the Counting of the Omer, the period between Pesach and Shavuot.

Because Yom Ha-Shoah is a relatively recent man-made holiday, people disagree about how to observe this memorial day. In Israel, Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Memorial Center) works to raise awareness of this day through public outreach and special events and to ensure a national consciousness of those who perished. Outside Israel, Holocaust Remembrance Day is usually held on April 19, the date on the Gregorian calendar when the Warsaw ghetto uprising began.

Though this holiday has neither biblical basis nor direct prophetic implication, the Bible teaches that a day is coming when a final holocaust will afflict the Jewish people. During this ultimate Yom Kippur for the nation, many Jews will perish (Zech. 13:8), but some will survive the fire of cleansing and be saved. Though this final holocaust will be worse than World War II, God will give to the remaining Jewish souls a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek. 36:26), forgiving their sins forever (Jer. 31:34). Paul spoke of this time of the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon Israel when he wrote, “And so all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26).

As we remember the six million Jews who perished, may we be mindful of the future time of national cleansing and restoration. That time will culminate in the Jewish people’s accepting Christ as their Messiah and finally saying, “The LORD is my God” (Zech. 13:9). May the reality of the ultimate holocaust-to-come awake us from our spiritual slumber and motivate us, as believers in Messiah, to share the good news that Messiah has already come!